Variations on a Theme

Consoles by Gio Ponti

In looking at architecture, Gio Ponti often remarked that the past provided the impetus in the evolution of the contemporary aesthetic. Ponti’s insatiable creativity and constant patterns of examination are never more evident than in explorations of individual designs over a number of years or decades. The rich classically motivated forms introduced in the 1920s and 1930s provided a constant source of re-interpretation throughout his expansive career.

Many of Gio Ponti’s most exuberant and noteworthy individual designs were created for private commissions. Beginning in the 1920s, Ponti enjoyed a healthy number of commissions supported by visionary collectors and businesses. These experiences provided both the funding and creative outlet for Ponti’s most inventive designs.

In the mid-1920s, Ponti designed a large scale console table raised on a series of eight delicate legs. The sophisticated and complex form provided a highly tectonic presence, yet the leg structure imparted the table with a relative weightlessness. Separately, the top portion inset with drawers created a wonderfully simple interplay of volume and voids that created a dynamic sculptural statement. This console table became a form that Ponti would continue to explore and modify in a number of different commissions in the 1920s through the 1950s.

Console from Appartamento Schejola, Milan, 1929

The present lot is an early console table featuring a richly detailed burled walnut wood selection. As an architect and designer, Ponti’s forms embodied the era in which he worked. Details such as the tapered leg illustrate the luxurious neo-classical inspiration that dominated Ponti’s earliest designs. Each subtle variation in scale, material and form further developed the elegant expressions within this classically-inspired form.

Console from Villa Arreaza, Caracas, 1954

In 1954, Ponti designed a variant of this console for his celebrated Villa Arreaza commission in Caracas. With this adaptation of the form, the strict classical references are made more subtle by the commanding sleek modern sentiment and coloration.

Each of these consoles remain as icons of the artist’s unique vision within a distinct an era of his design. Born from the tradition of classic design, Ponti elevates the form to a masterpiece through adaption.

Gio Ponti 1891–1979

Gio Ponti excelled at painting as a child and expressed a fervent interest in the arts. Feeling that a career in architecture was preferable to that of a painter, Ponti’s parents encouraged him to pursue the former and in 1914 he enrolled at the Faculty of Architecture at the Politecnico di Milano. His studies were interrupted by war, and in 1915 he was forced to postpone his education. He served as a captain in the Pontonier Corps until 1919, earning multiple military honors. After graduating in 1921, Ponti married Giulia Vimercati, the daughter of local aristocracy and started an architecture firm. During this time, Ponti aligned himself with the neoclassical movement, Novecento and championed a revival of the arts and culture. In 1928, Ponti founded Domus, a periodical tailored to artists and designers, as well as the broader public. A shift occurred in the 1930s when Ponti took up a teaching post at his alma mater, the Politecnico di Milano. In search of new methods to express Italian modernity, Ponti distanced himself from the sentiments of Novecento and sought to reconcile art and industry. Together with the engineers, Eugenio Soncini and Antonio Fornaroli, Ponti enjoyed great success in the industrial sector, securing various commissions throughout Italy. In the 1950s, he gained international fame with the design of the Pirelli Tower in Milan and he was asked to be a part of the urban renewal of Baghdad, collaborating with top architects from around the world. His 1957 book, Amate l’architettura, is considered to be a microcosm of his work —an incredible legacy spanning art, architecture, industrial design, publishing and academia.

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Auction Results Gio Ponti

GIO PONTI, Room from the 9th Triennale of Milan 1951 | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

Room from the 9th Triennale of Milan 1951
estimate: $300,000–400,000
result: $324,000

GIO PONTI, custom coffee table from Villa Arreaza, Caracas | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

custom coffee table from Villa Arreaza, Caracas
estimate: $50,000–70,000
result: $170,500

GIO PONTI, rare sofa for Palazzo Liviano, University of Padova | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

rare sofa for Palazzo Liviano, University of Padova
estimate: $50,000–70,000
result: $161,000

GIO PONTI, coffee table from Villa Arreaza, Caracas, Venezuela | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

coffee table from Villa Arreaza, Caracas, Venezuela
estimate: $50,000–70,000
result: $156,000

GIO PONTI, pair of Diamond armchairs from the Lisa Ponti residence, Milan | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

pair of Diamond armchairs from the Lisa Ponti residence, Milan
estimate: $30,000–35,000
result: $144,000

GIO PONTI, custom coffee table from Via Dezza 49 | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

custom coffee table from Via Dezza 49
estimate: $25,000–30,000
result: $134,400

GIO PONTI, executive desk | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

executive desk
estimate: $70,000–90,000
result: $132,000

GIO PONTI, pair of Diamond lounge chairs from Via Dezza 49 | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

pair of Diamond lounge chairs from Via Dezza 49
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $132,000

GIO PONTI, coffee table | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

coffee table
estimate: $100,000–125,000
result: $132,000

GIO PONTI, Rare lounge chairs, pair | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

Rare lounge chairs, pair
estimate: $70,000–90,000
result: $131,000

GIO PONTI, Rare and Important coffee table | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

Rare and Important coffee table
estimate: $70,000–90,000
result: $125,000

GIO PONTI, Diamond sofa from the Lisa Ponti residence, Milan | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

Diamond sofa from the Lisa Ponti residence, Milan
estimate: $40,000–50,000
result: $120,000

GIO PONTI, Diamond sofa from Via Dezza 49 | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

Diamond sofa from Via Dezza 49
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $114,000

GIO PONTI, executive desk | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

executive desk
estimate: $35,000–45,000
result: $106,200

GIO PONTI, pair of Diamond lounge chairs from Villa Arreaza, Caracas | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

pair of Diamond lounge chairs from Villa Arreaza, Caracas
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $100,900

GIO PONTI, rare Diamond dining table | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

rare Diamond dining table
estimate: $70,000–90,000
result: $100,000

GIO PONTI, vessel from the Classical Conversation series | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

vessel from the Classical Conversation series
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $96,000

GIO PONTI, pair of lounge chairs from Villa Arreaza, Caracas | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

pair of lounge chairs from Villa Arreaza, Caracas
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $92,500

GIO PONTI, custom armchairs, pair | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

custom armchairs, pair
estimate: $50,000–70,000
result: $90,000

GIO PONTI, set of eight dining chairs from Villa Arreaza, Caracas | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

set of eight dining chairs from Villa Arreaza, Caracas
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $86,500

GIO PONTI, rare coffee table | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

rare coffee table
estimate: $50,000–70,000
result: $80,500

GIO PONTI, important dining table from Villa Arreaza, Caracas | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

important dining table from Villa Arreaza, Caracas
estimate: $50,000–70,000
result: $80,500

GIO PONTI, Diamond sofa from the Lisa Ponti residence, Milan | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

Diamond sofa from the Lisa Ponti residence, Milan
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $80,400

GIO PONTI, desk | Wright20.com

Gio Ponti

desk
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $78,000